For the last five weeks I spent my spare time planning a surprise birthday party for my dear friend Ivy. In case you didn’t know, there is a lot of planning involved in a surprise party. There’s the list of people to invite, the decorations, the food, the finances, the surprise element, and so much detail, not to mention doing all this while keeping it a secret from one of my very closest friends! Who knew it was so involved? Who knew there could be so much detail? Not me. Luckily, my dear friend Amber knew all about the planning side of things, and stepped up to the plate to help out.
If you know me, or anything about me, you are probably laughing already. I am the epitome of an ENFP. I’ll never forget the day my friend Jon laughed in my face when I claimed to be another personality type, and matter-of-factly stated, “Uhm, no, you’re definitely an ENFP.”
Yes. I am an ENFP.
I live in the world of possibility. I’m like a hot air balloon, and sometimes I lose the basket that anchors me down to reality. I am passionate about almost everything and see almost all of life as a gift. I am full of ideas and I love stepping back to look at the big picture. I am a dreamer to the extreme.
Lovely, right? My weaknesses are also the epitome of an ENFP. Details are almost impossible for me. I would way rather focus on the concept or idea. Follow-through on projects can be quite difficult for me, as I am constantly coming up with new ideas that interest me more than the old ones. I think there a million ways to do things, and did I mention I have a really difficult time with details?
Wait, I know what you are thinking. Why did I take on such a detail oriented task that involved so much planning?
Honestly, I did not think about it. All I thought was, “I love Ivy so much, and I want to show it in an extravagant way.”
The truth is, details and planning are far outside of my comfort zone. I am the girl who puts things on the calendar simply because that’s what you are supposed to do. How often do I even look at that calendar? I am the girl who hates scheduling things definitely, because I never know what might come up. I am the girl who has a difficult time deciding what to order at a restaurant because I just want to keep my options open. What if I commit to that creamy tomato basil, and decide ten minutes later I would rather have zuppa toscana?
So I took on a task with the big picture in mind, not realizing it was a picture that could only be achieved with a great deal of attention to detail. I took on a task that led me far outside of my comfort zone.
And just outside of that zone, I learned what it looks like to love in a whole new way. I learned how it feels to be stretched for the sake of radical love.
That’s the reality. When we love fully, we are bound to exit our comfort zone.
And when we do that, we can finally see life from a whole new perspective- a very selfless perspective.
So there I was, making banners and homemade confetti and food labels with Amber, and I came to this realization. I was not doing any of what was before me for the sake of myself. There was no personal gain in the task. In fact, the task seemed impossible to finish, but I just kept cutting and gluing. My mind drifted to the idea of love languages. I began thinking about the many times I have heard people say, “She receives love this way, but that’s just not how I give love,” or, “Why can’t he see that I was loving him by doing that. That’s just how I love.”
And I couldn’t hep but think, that’s not really love at all.
You see, love seeks to honor the other person above one’s self. Choosing only to love in a way that is comfortable for us is actually quite selfish. Selfless love gives with no regard to self. It pours out for the sake of the other person, with no regard for personal gain. It does not insist on its own way. It values the other person far more than recognition. It never says, “that’s just how I love.” Instead, it says, “Because this is love to you, that is what I will do.”
If we have this idea that others should simply receive love the way we do, then we rob ourselves of the joy of loving fully, and we rob others of an opportunity to be fully loved. In fact, insisting that others simply receive love the way we give it is actually entirely self seeking. That, ultimately, is demanding recognition for an effort to love, rather than truly loving.
It isn’t always easy to love outside your comfort zone. Stretching? Yes. Easy? No.
Worth it? One hundred percent.
Oscar Wilde said beautifully, “To give and not expect return, that is what lies at the heart of love.”
I encourage you, beloved, learn what love looks like to those around you. Step outside your comfort zone. Be stretched. Be willing.